Secure Access with a Pedigree

Whenever I’m researching start-ups, my browser inevitably collides with Crunchbase, a hip on-line resource that “allows users to discover innovative companies and the people behind them.” An algorithm is used to compute and then re-compute Crunchbase Ranks for companies and people, where scores are driven by events, launches, and other factors determining influence. Apple, SpaceX, and Tesla are usually in the Top 10. My rank today was 705,425. Ugh.

While Crunchbase supports hours of fun for business voyeurs, I must say that I don’t pay much attention to their framework in my cyber security research. Their squishy concept of influence strikes me as a fickle calibration, prone to awkward comparisons. For example, Hubspot came in today with a CB Rank of 67, where AT&T’s was 649. Now, come on: Regardless of how you feel about your service provider, such relative placement on any day seems patently ridiculous.

What I do instead, as a researcher, involves comparing cyber security companies based on an examination of the following organizational dimensions: People, Solutions, and Customers. I believe that if one can grasp the true essence of these three important areas, then accurate conclusions can be drawn about how that company supports its defined mission. And no – I do not compute a numeric TAG Rank, although I suspect my web traffic would double if I did.

Today, I spent some quality time with a forward-thinking cyber security company with an impressive profile in each of my dimensions: They employ roughly 750 people with a legacy in networking; their technology focuses on mobility, networking, and cloud and is supported by over 200 patents; and their customers, numbering 25,000 in total, include over 80% of the Fortune 500. The company I refer to is none other than Pulse Secure (CB Rank today: 57,424).

Now, I’ve been familiar with this organization since its release of the Juniper SA series SSL VPN appliance back in 2004 (which I hope you’ve upgraded). When Juniper spun the group in 2014, I remember receiving a briefing from the new executive team on how the Junos Pulse business would likely thrive as mobile access to cloud apps grew amidst de-perimeterization. I remember that discussion like it was yesterday, and they were spot on in their observation.

I was excited to see Sudhakar Ramakrishna take over as CEO in 2015. I believe the power of secure access technology involves using mobile devices to reach virtualized data centers and their extension to cloud-resident infrastructure and apps. So, the idea that Pulse Secure would bring in Ramakrishna, a former Citrix executive, struck me as just what was required for hyper growth. And as you can see from their impressive stats, they are executing on their mission.

“The Pulse Secure Suite was designed to support the needs of any business requiring secure access to important resources that might be located on premise or in the cloud. And with the growth of hybrid IT and the proliferation of enterprise apps and hosted services that employees need to reach from their mobile device, our integrated platform is even more relevant,” explained Scott Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer for Pulse Secure.

“More so,” Scott continued, “CIOs are focused on IT optimization and preserving user experience to support digital transformation. Our platform offers modern organizations the flexibility to pursue multi-cloud, hybrid IT objectives that ensure resource availability, security, data privacy, and compliance, while at the same time enabling appropriate access that is seamless to the end user.”

Pulse Secure supports secure connectivity via virtual, physical, and cloud support for access to data center apps, mobile apps, and cloud-based services. Their VPN technology enables two-factor, single sign-on across devices, applications, and services. The company also provides virtual application delivery control (vADC) with built-in WAF, and traffic management for hybrid and cloud-based platforms, as well as solutions for network device profiling and NAC.

A typical conventional enterprise architectural arrangement for Pulse Secure customers would start with deployment of the Pulse client to desktop and mobile devices located both inside and outside the perimeter. The Connect Secure gateway orchestrates access from outside the network to hosted resources on the Intranet or in the cloud. This baseline arrangement is important because hybrid architectures always include continued operation of a perimeter.

“Our solution focuses on the secure access transition,” explained Gordon, “that is now common across businesses and government agencies. Where traditional access occurred from the PC over a LAN to a premise-hosted app, access today can originate from anywhere, on a variety of different devices, to applications that might be hosted internally or via a private or public infrastructure, or SAAS offering - outside the traditional perimeter.”

Cloud-based management extends to the enterprise via Pulse Workspace and Policy Secure, which enable mobile containers, BYOD controls, and certificate-based authentication. These components integrate with premise and cloud-resident apps for secure access support to physical and virtual workloads. For NAC, Pulse Policy Secure allows for visibility and enforcement of users, devices, and things including profiling and guest management.

As I type these words, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be in touch with Crunchbase directly. Real influence comes from people, technology, and customers – and with such a strong story in each area, Pulse Secure deserves a much higher CB Rank. At minimum, I’d recommend that their rank surpass that of struggling A&P (CB Rank today: 43,853) and that they increase their distance from disgraced Enron (CB Rank today: 81,077).

Give the Pulse Secure team a call and let us know what you learn.